The thing that bugs me about the Yankees loss to the Nationals is not the loss in itself. You are bound to lose games when you play as many as they do in baseball. The thing that I hate the most about the game is the way they lost.
Tanka did not look good in the least bit. He was a mess. The Yanks had bases loaded in the top of the third with nobody out, and they still failed to get even one run on the board. Aaron Hicks got out swinging before Ackley grounded into a double play. Strasburg was faced with an innings that was getting away from him and yet he managed to get it done. That or the Yankees had a chance to get runs on the board but failed to take it. It was the same old story from last season. They had the men on bases, in good scoring positions but just couldn’t get the job done.
Then we handed it over to Tanaka who was a sensational pitcher in his rookie season, up until the point when he got injured. Of course, anytime he blows an innings or a game in such spectacular fashion as he did last night there will always be the wrangling of hands and the lamentations that he was not recovered from the injury which brought his stellar rookie season to an end. No doubt Joe will have to fend off these questions again. It seems a regular occurrence whenever Tanaka blows a game like this.
But it was bad. He gave up a homer to ex-teammate Stephen Drew which would surely hurt the Yankees front office’s pride given they got rid of him. But I am happy that he scored and wish him well. I liked him a little bit more than Headley.
Then the innings got worse for Tanaka. He just couldn’t get his stuff right in that innings and in the end he lost 7 runs. We can only scratch our heads and wonder is this a portend of things to come? Is this what we are to expect in the upcoming season? Tanaka just not having the same stuff as he did. We already have a lot of concern over the way Nova is blowing hot and cold and is not able to lock down the fifth starter slot, which would surely be his ahead of CC given the way that Sabathia is not adjusting to the lack of pace which had been a hallmark of pitching in the past. The pitchers have been the biggest question mark this offseason, and the run up to spring and they continue to be so. As does the hitting.
The blame cannot be all on Tanaka, the hitters must take the blame for this game going so far out of the Yanks hands. Had Hicks or Ackley been able to get even one of those guys home while getting out, this game would have been different. Tanaka lost the plot. But he was let down big time by his hitting, and it is worrying to see two new guys keeping up with the same hitting MO from the last season. Failing to get scores on the board, and putting the pressure on the pitchers until they lose the game and plot with a spectacular collapse.
So the Spring Training sojourn in Tampa came to its natural conclusion. The Opening Day circus is about to kick off and thankfully too, I love it when Spring Training is over because although it is great to watch any baseball, nothing comes close to the full-blooded contest of the actual season when every pitch, swing, hit and error counts. We see it so often that there is a call made, a batter makes it to first, or steals second or third, it is given safely, but in a real game the manager would contest it. But in the spring it is let slide. Who cares, get through the game, get a feel for playing, stretch the muscles and all that. Just get it over with, without too many injuries.
Last night watching the game however, I was still filled with a sense that things were not so good. Like, for one thing, what is the story with the Yankees and their failure to hit and score runs? A-Rod was good, and certainly there were times when the Bombers scored plenty. But it is still worrying me that they don’t look like a team that will get a lot of production with the bat. Maybe once the heat of battle kicks in and they return to the hitter friendly Bronx, then we will see more scoring. But that is the one big headache from last season that doesn’t go away. I am still worried about that.
Sure maybe worried is a touch strong. After all in a world with religious and political intolerance, murders, poverty, hunger and so on, to say that I am worried about something is quite a biscuit. But look this is sport, and I am talking about sport. So in a puny kind of way I can say that I am worried about the state of the Yankees hitting. It is okay that I find the lack of scoring something that won’t keep me up at night, but it perturbs me to a very high degree.
The other thing that bothers me is the way Sabathia pitched yesterday. He pitched 5.1 innings. That was good I guess because he needed to get some more time in, get his grove back and get used to putting all that weight onto his knee. But it wasn’t pretty to watch, especially his first inning performance when he threw 40 pitches giving up three runs and three hits. It was sloppy, and his fast ball just seemed to hang up there for the batters to hit. His control was poor, it is the last piece of the puzzle for him, but it is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. Once he gets that back then he will be a lot better than he is. But he is still lacking a lot of the control that he needs to win games for us, and while he managed to get into a flow throughout the rest of the game, I am bothered by the idea that he could give away those runs early into a game while he is trying to get his flow because if the Yanks aren’t able to get their hitting game going, they will need their pitchers to keep the opposition off the board. Any runs given up can easily snowball into a mountain.
Still with only one more game left to be played in the Spring, and the Bombers only a few days away from Opening Day in New York, there is the hope and excitement that can only come with the first day of the season. A clean slate. A fresh star…. oh please let the Yankees find how to score runs again!!!!
The Mets rampaged over theYankees who continue to underwhelm with the bat. ARod looked sharp in another game, he wasn’t taking part in this contest and perhaps he ought to have been there. The performance of the Yankees hitters has been something of a downer to all fans. We get it that these games are not important, and won’t matter a whole tonne of biscuits when the season gets going. That is the nature of the beast. But I do hope that they can get it together and start hitting the ball more, and getting something for their hits.
But despite the sour taste in my mouth at the idea of losing even a meaningless Spring Training game to the Mets, the pressure to include Pirela in the starting day roster was released for Cashman, as the young standout was filling in at Centrefield for Jacoby Ellsbury and crashed into the fence, injuring himself and giving up an infield homer. He was confirmed as having suffered a concussion, which was not as bad as it could have been but was bad all the same. Brian must be happy that this will take away some of the pressure of him, and that he is at least not being as crazy as the GM in the Cubs. I guess the only thing that we can take from whole Kris Bryant is that we are not the only club with fools running it, who make decisions that make no sense, and cite money as the so called logic behind it.
All that aside, I just want to wish Pirela well and hope he has a speedy recovery, and more importantly that we see him in Yankee pinstripes sooner this season.
Brian Cashman is one of those guys who keeps making bad calls when it comes to bringing players to the Yankees, and it must be said that he seem to lack the moral courage to admit when he is wrong, even when it is painfully obvious to all that he is. So far the worst decision he has made this season is to give $5m to Drew in what he called in an interview qwith an NY paper ”a gamble.”
I am sorry Brian if you fancy a flutter go bet on a horse, shoot some dice, or do some other lame ass Vegas/ Atlantic City activity that requires as much thought and logic as you seem to put into roster moves. It is almost as though he sees bringing in players and giving out contracts to guys like playing the slot machines. Throw the money in and hope that it works out for the best.
I don’t blame Drew for the fact the Yankess have given him such a big contract. Or Beltran either for that matter, because they are both players that are just trying to get paid and play the game we all love. But they are two players who I think will cost more than we will get from them by way of runs. So no it isn’t their fault they got a big contract with so many big questions over their production or their health. I blame Cashman.
I blame him in the case of Drew for making another poor decision in signing him and thinking that he will give something to the Yankees that he isn’t able to give. I blame Cashman for thinking that if a guy played for Boston, and then came to New York then he wil in someway reinact the curse of The Babe, and hit like Ruth did. So no matter if he couldn’t slap the broadside of the JFK with a Garth Brooks guitar, give him a big contract and then give him a spot on the Opening Day roster at the expense of Pirela the one Yankee that has stood out as deserving a place on the Opening day roster ahead of Drew. Instead Cashman has all but written Pirela off as being Minor League bound and in the meantime he keeps payjng out big money on useless players in the hope that sometime soon he is bound to hit a gamble that pays off.
Spoken like a true Gambling addict there Brian.
Now I know that I have praised Joe Girardi, i just love that guy and find his style of managment to be superb. Not many may agree with me on that, I don’t really know. I praised his work last year as some of the best of his managing career especially with a massive handicap (ie Brain Cashman’s bringing in a whole bunch of guys who were expensive plug ins that just weren’t good moves.) I just want it to be known that my praise of what Joe did is not given to Cashman. Because he stank last year and gave Joe a tonne of duds. In the end I hope Hal wakes up and shows some of the spark his father had and fires Brian’s ass. Or of he is in the habit of hiring staff who don’t do their jobs, or when they actually bother to do their jobs do them badly without fear of being fired for it- please Hal Baby, give me a job. I can stink at a job at a Brian Cashman level. I know I can… I just know I can!
Okay so the Yankees have had a few things happening in the minor leagues. Tyler Austin has been optioned along with Danny Burawa, and Jose De Paula to Triple A’s Scranton /Wilkes-Barre. Tyler is rated as one of the top Yankee prospects by MLB.com. Yet he hasn’t really impressed too much with his bat this spring training. In 16 At bats he has scored 3 runs one of which was a home run, 2 rbis with a batting average of .188. Girardi said that while nobody was going to make or break their places on the team. Which is a good thing for Tyler who could still do well enough in Triple-A that he could get a call up when during the season. The baseball season is long and the Yankees will need as much help from the farm system as they can get. Especially with so many older players on the roster. Younger arms will prevail, just as long as their heads keep focused and they don’t let being sent down to the minors as a set back.
Also optioned to the minors was Mason Williams who was sent to Double-A Trenton, while Wilking Rodriquez was sent to Minor League Camp. It is also thought that Jose Pirela could very well wind up being sent to Triple A despite a great Spring Training performance. There just isn’t any room for him on the roster for Opening Day. It shows how deep the roster is for the team that someone of his calibre can’t quite get into the team.
Also Moises Cedeno who plays in the Yankees’ minor league team in the Dominican Summer League was suspended for 72 days for being found with traces of PES Clenbuterol. This is a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He will not be paid during the suspension either.
Didi Gregorius was a smart move. In bringing him to the Yankees the front office have upgraded the infield defence. Derek Jeter was a great shortstop but last year he was not at his best. Still good by anyone else’s standard. But not so hot by his own. It was to be expected as age, and injury slowed him down and weakened his arm.
Didi will certainly improve performances at shortstop and has shown us just what he can do with some great plays that has Yankee hearts racing. But wee must remember one thing. Didi isn’t a hitter. He hasn’t come to the team to be a hitter. He is one of those guys who won’t put up the numbers that Jeter did especially if he is expected to do just that. Because pressure can do a lot of things to a guys head. If we start expecting him to put up big numbers on offence, hitting like Jeter, he will start swinging at everything digging himself into a massive hole. It will do him no good. The problem then will mean that he will become a flop. All from pressure to perform with the bat. But if we are happy that he is there to defend, and let him hit according to his own style of playing, then I think Didi will be a massive star for the Yankees, not quite at the level that Jacoby Ellsbury who is by far and away my favourite on the roster, but not too far behind him. I am glad Didi is a Yankee. Let’s get behind him for what he brings to the team, and not on his back for what he isn’t naturally able to do.
So CC Sabathia took to the mound for the first time since May of last year when injury had ended his season. Most people wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in how well he pitched yesterday. After all these games just aren’t that big a deal outside of the mechanics of getting a player in shape for Opening Day. But we can learn something from it, ie what kind of shape he was in after such a long lay off.
He looked good in the first inning that he pitched. Getting three quick outs to shut down the inning quickly. He even managed to get Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista to ground out, and struck out Josh Donaldson. Not bad one might think. But his second inning was not such a good one, and he quickly lost control of proceedings giving up two runs. It could have gotten a lot worse but for an amazing series of plays to get the third out when Josh Thole hit a fly ball which gave him a double to the left field where Brett Gardner threw to Didi Gregorius, who in turn fired a rocket of a throw to Brian McCann at home where he tagged out Devon Travis who had run from first base to try to score. It was an exciting play to close the innings.
It is true that you cannot really put a lot of stock in the performance of a two innings appearance on the mound in spring. It is really only a matter of seeing how CC could handle pitching from the mound in a game situation rather than in simulated/ bullpen situations. He did well, to a degree. But in two innings he threw 31 pitches, gave up 4 hits, two runs both of which were earned, and struck out two guys for an ERA of 9.00. So it wasn’t a stellar as some of the appearances of fellow teammates. But certainly we can feel a bit happier by the fact that he is healthy enough to get on the mound and pitch. He doesn’t look sharp, but with a bit more practice and playing time, then I think he will be an integral part of getting us back to the post season. From small steps are the highest mountains climbed.